Bride Of Chucky

The Scream movies made the combination of horror and comedy look easy.  Bride Of Chucky makes it look difficult.
 
Once again, Brad Dourif, who sounds uncannily like Jack Nicholson, emotes life into his animatronic alter-ego, Chucky.  As you may recall from Child’s Play, the first and only effectively scary movie in this franchise, Dourif played a satan-worshipping serial killer who broke into a toy store and through his power of chanting, was able to transport his soul into a Good Guy doll just before he was taken down by police.  One very unlucky little boy got the scare of his life when his mother bought him this particular doll. 
 
After being killed in 3 movies now, he is resurrected yet again for this fourth movie, the first not to feature "Child’s Play" in the title (although, according to the Internet Movie Database, it was in the working title).  But there’s a twist this time.  His longtime (and remarkably devoted) girlfriend (which is unconvincing), the very sexy Jennifer Tilly (who has amazingly ageless cleavage), misses him so much she picks up a copy of Voodoo For Dummies (good sight gag) and finds the right satanic chant to bring her notorious ex back to life (but not before finding spare doll parts for him and stitching up his face which makes him look even creepier than he did in the earlier movies). 
 
Their relationship is extraordinarily rocky and the movie plays like a more intense, less-funny version of Everybody Loves Raymond.  In the 10 years she has been waiting for this bizarre reunion, Tilly has kept a former nebbish turned goth stud (Alexis Arquette, if you can believe it) on a short leash to do her bidding.  (Arquette tries to fool her into thinking he’s a bad-ass murderer like Chucky but the evidence he shows her is just a picture of himself acting lifeless.)  Chucky delivers his first kill in movie #4 and the lovebirds get reacquainted.  They alternate between screaming and fawning.  When Tilly realizes that Chucky never wanted to marry her like she thought, she treats him like a caged animal and later, offers him a female doll for companionship.  (Do you really want to piss off this doll?  I mean, do ya?)
 
Meanwhile, Katherine Heigl (in a pre-stardom role) is having a hard time hiding her burgeoning (and uninteresting) romance with Nick Stabile (who made his film debut here) from her naturally suspicious uncle, John Ritter, who just happens to be the Chief of Police.  (What happened to her parents?  Were they killed in an earlier sequel?) There’s an unfunny scene where their mutual friend, Gordon Michael Woolvett (who is gay), tries to convince Ritter that he’s the one dating his niece and not Stabile.  Their little scam almost works until a patrol officer (nicknamed Needleneck) pulls over the three friends and stalls for time by making them all do a breathalyzer test.  And then Ritter arrives.  He must’ve gone to the Hulk Hogan school of parenting.
 
Back in Tilly’s trailer, Chucky breaks free from his wooden prison and manages to electrocute his girlfriend while she’s in the tub crying during a TV airing of Bride Of Frankenstein.  Almost immediately, through his chanting ability, he gives her a second chance at life by relocating her soul to that female doll she gave him as a sarcastic gift.  Once she makes the doll resemble her former human self (before the unwanted tub barbeque) the two hatch a plan.  As with all of these movies, Chucky is desperate to find another human body to cleverly conceal his soul in.  He has yet to succeed but this time, it might work.
 
When he died, he was buried with an amulet around his neck.  Apparently, he needs this jewellery for yet another chanting ceremony so he can finally call a living human body home.  (I don’t remember him ever needing this thing before.)  The problem is his body is buried in a New Jersey cemetery.  They need someone to take them by car to this place.  Tilly calls on Nick Stabile, who she’s kinda sweet on (the feeling is not mutual), and offers him 500 smackers to take two dolls to the cemetery.  Without too much convincing, he takes the gig after convincing Tilly to double his fee.  
 
When he goes to pick up Heigl for this spontaneous road trip, he remembers a conversation he had with Tilly when she was still human.  He proposes they leave town together and get married.  She accepts.  Let’s just say she should have refused.
 
Bride Of Chucky was released in the fall of 1998, some 7 years after the third Child’s Play movie which was slightly better than number two, which I consider to be the worst of the franchise thus far.  I admired what director Ronny Yu and screenwriter Don Mancini (who wrote the first Child’s Play) attempted to do here.  Clearly inspired by Scream, they try to combine satire and horror for a new generation of fans already well-versed in the laws and cliches of horror movies.  Sometimes they succeed, mostly they fail.  And unlike the first two Scream films, the movie never really establishes itself as a spine-tingling scarefest.  It seems more interested in having its villains make self-referential remarks than truly scaring the audience.  And without heroes to really care about, there’s nothing here for the audience to get too worked up about.
 
I laughed more than I expected to but not nearly enough to recommend the movie.  And while there are a couple of effective thrills in Bride Of Chucky (one involving an exploding car), mostly, this is routine material.  This is the fourth time Chucky has tried to find a human body for his insatiably murderous soul.  It’s time to find a new plot for this character or drop him completely.
 
When you make a good horror movie like Child’s Play with a winning premise and a memorable villain (plus likeable heroes you can root for), it’s awfully difficult to make it work again.  This is the third bad sequel I’ve seen and I’m not done yet.  Up next is Seed Of Chucky.  Speaking of which, I have a question.  How is possible for two dolls to procreate?
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, August 9, 2006
3:21 a.m.
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Published in: on August 9, 2006 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment  

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